by Amy Bach

Hawaii-based insurance policy expert and UP volunteer Robert Joslin was the first to alert us to the May 2018 disaster on the Big Island. An underground earthquake triggered lava eruptions and dangerously high levels of Sulphur Dioxide in the Puna region.  Kiluea erupted on May 17th, 2018, sending ash 30,000 feet in the air.  

Robert explains that direct lava damage may be excluded from coverage in a typical home policy, but damage caused by any smoke, heat or fires initially emanating from forest fire embers, adjoining trees or shrubbery prior to the immediate arrival of the actual lava can be covered. 

If your property is damaged by lava flow, follow UP's basic approach to getting a fair claim settlement.  If problems arise, start by filing a complaint with the state agency that oversees insurance companies that do business in Hawaii.  http://cca.hawaii.gov/ins/consumer/filing_a_complaint/how-to-file-a-complaint-against-all-other-insurers/

If that doesn't resolve the dispute, contact one of the local policyholder experts that support UP.

Hawaii residents have insurance legal rights under a Claims Settlement Practices Act explained in this blog about Haw. Rev. Stat. § 431:13-103 (1988/1989).  The Act sets forth:

–Best practices for claims handling
–Prompt investigations and settlement
–Cooperation and communication
–Statutory penalties for bad faith
 

For more information on insurance coverage for home repairs due to lava damage, read with this publication.  

About The Blogger

Amy Bach

Amy Bach has been a professional advocate for insurance policyholders since 1984 and an attorney since 1989. She co-founded United Policyholders in 1991 and serves as the organization's Executive Director and primary spokesperson; shaping and overseeing the Roadmap to Recovery™, Roadmap to Preparedness, and Advocacy and Action programs. She is a nationally recognized expert on insurance claim and legal matters; frequently interviewed in print and broadcast media, and the author of numerous publications including "The Disaster Recovery Handbook", "WISE UP: The Savvy Consumer's Guide to Buying Insurance" and consumer tips and guides in the UP Claim Help Library.  Recognized by Money Magazine as a Money Hero, Bach is in her eighth consecutive term as an official consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and is a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Insurance.